The first year of marriage is typically the honeymoon phase, when both partners are in love and life feels pretty magical. The problem is, many couples could unknowingly walking into a ticking time bomb if they’re not aware of some of the challenges that come with being newlyweds. These are 13 of the most common mistakes couples make in the first year of marriage and how they can work to fix them before they destroy the marriage.
"Couples can start getting into a rut of enjoying the marriage in the first year to the extent they may stop being social as a couple or individually, which could set up bad patterns ahead," certified clinical psychologist Paul DePompo tells SheKnows. “So discuss what balance would look like in terms of time together, apart and with others. It is irrational to believe you must want to be together all the time.”
2. Expecting your partner will be different
People think marriage will make someone more mature, calmer, etc. “Do not expect your partner to now be any different than they were last year. You married a person with their own history, personality and experience — so we should expect this is what you are getting at the most part,” says DePompo.
3. Not knowing how to fight
Couples might not know how to fight with their partner. “They might not know if it’s best to figure things out before going to sleep or to cool off for the night,” says Katie Leikam, a relationship and LGBTQ-affirming therapist. “Have a conversation with your partner when you're not fighting and ask them what’s most helpful to each of you and implement it next time a fight comes around,” she tells SheKnows.
4. Not knowing the household expectations
Were you raised to believe that one gender does certain chores around the house? Do you have different expectations of who does what to keep the house functioning? “Sit down and talk to your partner about how you were raised about gendered roles and what you believe should be the same or different based on your opinions. Make clear expectations about who is responsible for what. It may surprise you,” says Leikam.
5. Fighting over the little stuff
Arguing over the toilet seat being left up or for crumbs on the floor does not set the tone for a healthy relationship. Marriage is about biting your tongue at times; otherwise, you will find yourself in a constant argument with your new spouse. Try discussing your pet peeves in an effective manner.
6. Not attending premarital counseling
Most couples spend thousands of dollars on lavish, beautiful weddings, but they completely skip out on the counseling. “Even when the signs of trouble are clear in a relationship, they often feel too embarrassed to seek help,” Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells SheKnows. “Counseling actually works best when the relationship has not hit a point where both partners have their walls up. It's so much better to iron out differences before you walk down the aisle than to spend the first year bickering.”
7. Sweeping things under the rug
In the first year of marriage, the starry-eyed lovers often forget that some level of disagreement can actually be healthy. “Rather than brushing small irritations away, actually talk about it. Small irritations can easily build up into large annoyances. To fix this, set a time each week or even once a month to have a relationship check-in,” says Osibodu-Onyali.
8. Failing to set clear boundaries
This is a common mistake with couples who have dated or known each other for a long time, Osibodu-Onyali says. “They rely on the knowledge of each other to keep things moving along. The problem with this is that most people expect their marriage to look like their parents' marriage. Consider having a sit-down, no-nonsense discussion about what you each think your roles should be.”
9. Trying to have a baby right away
We’re all aware of the clock ticking as women, age but Osibodu-Onyali tells SheKnows it’s important to get to know each other as a married couple first before you bring a new dynamic into the marriage. Children can cause stress, sleeplessness and other challenges that need to be overcome with two solid partners. Certainly, discuss how many children you want, fertility and timing, just don't start right away.
10. Not organizing the finances
Newlyweds rarely talk about money. Sonya Schwartz, a relationship expert, tells SheKnows it is commonly assumed a married couple should share income and expenses, but that’s not a rule. “Talk to your spouse and work out a formula that fits you, even if that means managing your incomes separately.”
11. Forgetting those little things
Living together and sharing a life often transforms into the habit of having the other one around. “You no longer flirt or say compliments; you just take your partner for granted. But this could easily turn into frustration for one or both of you, says Schwartz. “To avoid this, keep going on dates, say compliments, make yourselves small presents and always try to surprise the other with something cute.”
12. You stop having sexy sex
When you’re dating, you are filled with ecstatic, excited, sexy feelings. “You want to impress your new partner,” Laurel House, dating and relationship coach and resident sex expert for My First Blush, tells SheKnows. “You want to show how amazing, fun, erotic, interesting and flexible you are. And then you get married, and things change. Real life, routine, daily stresses occupy your time, energy, thoughts and heart. And your sex drive plummets. Remember how sexy, excited and fun you used to be together. Make, don’t 'find,' the time for intimacy, sex and fun.”
13. Wearing sweatpants
It’s not necessarily the sweatpants that are the issue, but they are a symbol of a bigger issue — one that says you don’t care enough to try anymore. “Not that you need to be done up. But you don't want to wear your ugly sweats. Comfy sweats that are cute are reflective of trying to put effort into you and your relationship. Wearing 'I don't care' sweats can lead to an 'I don't care' attitude — not brushing your teeth, not shaving your legs, not dressing up for each other…” House warns.